tv Dateline NBC NBC March 27, 2017 2:03am-3:01am EDT
by guthy renker. i got a call from allison and she told me he was missing. >> they asked, would anyone want to hurt him? i knew that my dad had been on match.com. >> this is not gonna end well. this is a crime scene. >> miles of nothing up here.'s go missing. >> what do you mean you can't find my brother? >> he was the school's superintendent. not the type to play hooky. >> he really loved teaching and working with kids. >> turns out, he wasn't missing. he was dead. ? your missing person's case has become a homicide? >> correct. >> that solved one mystery but left another. why would anyone want to kill
him? maybe it had something to do with a woman in his life. he had broken off his engagement >> i just found out he was dead this morning. now, i feel like i'm a suspect. >> and there was somebody else nobody knew about. >> i was lonely. just needed someone to talk to. >> did it also get a little steamy, mary? >> yes. >> passion and a secret that the wrong person discovered. >> her face looked like she had seen a ghost. she said, sheriff -- >> stay with me. office phone call i think you need to take. >> i'm lester holt and this is "dateline." here's dennis murphy. winter co and stays late in far western new york. the farmlands near chautauqua lake, tilled by amish and dutch li and ice for months at a time, but in this place of frozen stillness, the hottest of passions, boiling jealousy came
1700 residents in the southwest part of the country, is still shakof joe gerace is the long-time sheriff. >> my 35 years in law enforcement, can you ever remember a homicide in clymer? never. >> it ga the new school superintendent in town went missing one weekend, just a few weeks into the school year in september 2012. keith reed, 51 years old, was a long-time educator who had landed in the sweet spot of his professional career. >> parents and family members, do you believe in our graduates? >> reporter: the up until then school principal had applied for the top administrative job in the clymer district with his big brother, kevin, urging him on. >> says there's this little school up in chautauqua county called clymer. he said, i don't know whether i should apply there. i said apply. >> you were the nudger. >> i nudged him. and i knew what he wanted and once he was there, it was over.
>> reporter: you might think a close-knit community like clymer would be standoff-ish to newcomers. but parents and students quickly embraced a hands-on mr. reed. his eldest daughter, caitlin. >> greeted the kids in the morning, coming off the bus, he talked to them during the day he was in the hallways. he really loved teaching and working with kids and he was wonderful at it. >> reporter: new superintendent had three grown daughters and a painful divorce behind him. but he'd never let life's difficulties distract from his primary role, dad. megan is the middle child. >> he loved to have fun. he would always dance crazy with us, like pick us up in the air and slide us between his legs and throw us up. >> reporter: and the old family snapshots, hiking in hawaii, disney world, all the christmases seemed to show a dad over the moon with his three girls. kaitlyn was a star volleyball player an all-american and knew
without a doubt when her father was in the stands on game days. you could hear him? >> i could. yeah. everyone could. >> reporter: her dad was in a long-term relationship with a single mom named kimberly roush. >> he had three daughters and i had two boys and a lot of our time was spent being involved in their sporting events. >> reporter: they had been on again/off again for years, but no sooner had they decided to take one of their periodic romantic time-outs from one another and then they would rubber band back together. boyfriends like keith were hard to find. >> a song would come on and he would pull the car over, take me out of the car and dance with me along the side of the road. being with him was amazing. >> reporter: and now that his girls were grown, keith reed was at long last finding his special place, getting comfortable. he bought a big house in town, a sign that the superintendent wasn't just using clymer as a career stepping stone. >> he found where he wanted to be. finally. after years and years of looking.
they would have to pry him out with a bar. >> reporter: but on saturday morning, september 22nd, when clymer's school principal, ed bailey, drove past his friend and colleague's house, he was surprised to see both of keith's vehicles still in the driveway. the superintendent was meant to be across the state at an educator's conference. >> i just made a mental note, i was going to be coming back by and i thought if both vehicles are there, i'll stop in and see what's going on. >> reporter: when all looked the same on his return trip, the principal pulled into the drive. >> i actually went in the door of the house and yelled, yelled his name. and, of course, there was no answer. >> reporter: someone else who started to wonder what was up that saturday was caitlin. the two spoke by phone every day. >> he didn't answer my phone call on that saturday and so i thought that was a little strange. but i was really busy so just kind of forgot. >> reporter: by sunday, his daughter, megan, had become very concerned. she hadn't heard from him either, worrying. >> okay, like answer the phone, it's time to answer your phone,
i was confused, he always just answers the first time we call. >> reporter: that sunday night, her uncle kevin, a former fbi agent of 20 years, was being called to the house in clymer by a school official. >> said we can't find your brother. what do you mean you can't find my brother? he is supposed to be at a conference in albany, he didn't check in at the hotel. both his cars are still at the house. i said, okay, we're coming. >> reporter: kevin was hoping for a simple explanation that they'd come upon his brother on the property, hurt and maybe unable to get up. >> my hope was that he had gone out back. there's a huge tract of land behind his house, and had fallen down and was laying out there and couldn't get home. >> reporter: but when he walked into the house, the former fbi man didn't like what he saw. >> i started looking around. and here's $600 in his wallet, suitcases partially packed. i came back downstairs and said, "everybody out. everybody out. what are you talking about? i said, just go out in the garage. this is not going to end well and this is a crime scene. >> reporter: principal ed bailey
was taken aback by kevin's comment. >> i understand we have an issue here that keith's not where we thought he should be, but what do you mean it's not gonna end well? >> reporter: the principal had called the sheriff's office to report keith missing. deputies had responded to the scene. >> nothing added up. he had a bag packed. it looked like he was preparing for his trip, but nothing else was out of place. >> reporter: deputies broke out flashlights and searched the house, the grounds, but no luck. keith reed was flat out gone. and it's a real mystery to them when they leave the house? >> correct. >> reporter: sunday night ended in drenching rain, darker than usual around the house. they hadn't yet figured out why the exterior lights by the garage weren't working. they hadn't talked to the neighbors about some loud voices they heard. where was the school superintendent, mr. reed? >> this was a man who was responsible and respected, didn't seem the sort to just
take off without telling anyone. as the search continues, police make a startling discovery. >> so your missing person case has become a homicide? >> correct. and it was like, wow. ♪ your true self is never lost. breathe deeply. you don't have to find yourself. just let yourself in. the new atmosphere collection. fine home fragrance by glade. sc johnson, a family company.
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five-second rule protection. new lysol kitchen pro eliminates 99.9% of bacteria without any harsh chemical residue. ♪ lysol. what it takes to protect. okay. one down, mr. bailey. don't forget this. >> this snippet of cell phone video shows superintendent keith reed at the end of the first day of school, september 2012. in three weeks' time, the
high-profile educator would be reported to the sheriff's office as a missing person. >> the school superintendent that everybody loved, kids loved him, he was there every morning greeting them as they got off the bus. >> reporter: keith's last known whereabouts was dinner with a friend on friday night. a security camera caught him leaving the restaurant around 8:30 p.m. the next day, he was a no-show at a big state educator's conference across the state. his brother, kevin reed, a former fbi agent had a bad feeling about things when he arrived at his brother's house sunday night. >> i went right into fbi mode. i didn't -- didn't have time to get emotional. >> reporter: his brother, grounded, stable, reliable, was no one's candidate to just one day go missing, especially not then. why, just a few weeks before, he had had the moment every dad lives for, walking his eldest daughter, caitlyn, down the aisle. >> it was one of the most momentous days of his life. he was just -- i have never seen him that happy. >> reporter: at the reception, he even busted out his signature
dance moves. >> lived it up on the dance floor. >> he was a very happy guy in august 2012? >> uh-huh. >> reporter: but now as dawn broke a month later, monday morning, september 24th, keith reed had vanished. the sheriff's people were dispatched again to do a daylight search of the grounds. it wasn't long before a k-9 handler reported back. keith reed, his body, had been found. >> immediately, the dog and he found the body in the shrubs. >> reporter: keith's girlfriend, kimberly, was driving to a new job that morning when she got the news. she couldn't believe what she was hearing. >> he's dead. they found him. and i just started crying and i said, no, that's not possible. >> reporter: but tucked into the hedgerow about 50 feet from his driveway lay keith reed's body. he had been shot three times, twice in the back, once in the chest, all at close range. >> it was like, wow. how could this happen? who could have done this?
why would they do it?ame questions were soon roaring through the halls of keith's school. principal ed bailey had gotten the news from the sheriff's office. >> i just about dropped the phone. just couldn't believe it. >> we were talking about keith reed? >> yeah. my friend. >> reporter: along with the shock in the community came an unnerving question, given the national climate of school-related shootings, could keith reed have been targeted because of his work leading the district? an angry student? a disgruntled parent? was any of that even remotely possible? >> i'm thinking and going back through, did he have any enemies? who possibly could have been upset enough or crazy enough to do something like this, you know? >> did you come up with any possibilities? >> well, there was one incident that i know that the family was very upset with him. >> school-related beef of some kind? >> school related. but you know, nothing out of the ordinary, you know? nothing that should have ever rose to this level. >> reporter: neighboring districts were understandably on
edge, too. were they next? >> my phone blew up from other schools, are we in danger? is this the beginning of something bigger? there's a lot of people worried. >> reporter: and concern only heightened, the sheriff said, when word spread that an unknown man had stopped by keith's school around noon that friday, asking to see mr. reed. >> he told them that he was applying for a job as a substitute teacher, came in from connecticut looking for work. >> reporter: the man seen here was captured on school surveillance cameras. was this visitor a piece of the puzzle? detectives didn't know. but given the potential nightmare of schools and children in jeopardy, it was more important than ever for the # sheriff to have all hands on deck at the crime scene. county district attorney david foley was there and a door-to-door canvas turned up a critical clue for the timeline. >> a neighbor couple had heard gunshots, three gunshots, friday evening, somewhere around 9:00 p.m. >> reporter: on the property
itself though, detectives found themselves frustratingly short of clues, but they did recover in the grass a soggy piece of paper that looked like a receipt. it would be work for the lab to figure out. and around the garage, investigators took notice of something perplexing, three exterior lights, the bulbs were missing. >> why are the bulbs gone? this is odd. this is really odd. >> so somebody had done some planning. >> rang the door bell, can't see who's out there flips the light on, nothing happens, opens the door, there's his assailant. >> reporter: so the shooting of the superintendent for a grievance unknown became one theory to pursue, but detectives were about to hear a story that would make them look at the crime scene in a completely different way, something more traditional. it was possible that keith reed was the victim of a bad romance? as it happened, a candidate for a suspect, someone on again/off again was about to pull into the drive. coming up, angry texts put a girlfriend in the hot seat.
morning with his 80-year-old parents, expecting to search for a missing person. the sheriff broke the news. >> so now i've got my mother wanting to go and cover him up with a blanket because he's cold. try that sometime. it's a crime scene, mom, you can't go up there. it's tough. >> reporter: as the reed family struggled to make sense of the horror, investigators would put the question to keith's daughters. did they know of anyone who would have a reason to hurt their dad? >> we could not think of anyone to tell them. no one. >> everyone was just, no. >> reporter: a name occurred to their uncle kevin. of the leads to sort through, he suggested investigators look at keith's on again/off again girlfriend of many years, kimberly roush. >> i said the first thing you need do is talk to kimberly. >> where did that come from in you? >> experience. and knowing the relationship.
>> reporter: the investigators learned from kevin and others that the superintendent's relationship with kimberly had at times been rocky. they had been engaged to be married but keith recently called off the wedding. >> by the time summer was over, he had said, no, we're not doing this. >> reporter: was this what the crime scene was all about, a deadly confrontation between a man and his lover, upset over a canceled wedding. kimberly, who was almost two hours away, raced to the house. >> i said, kevin, what happened? i said, did he have a heart attack or something? and he said, no. somebody shot him. and i just started sobbing and i started to go down to my knees in the road. >> reporter: investigator randy boland was assigned to talk to her. >> she is crying and very, very, very emotional. so, i immediately go and speak to her but i give her some moments. >> reporter: but in the investigator's eyes, kimberly quickly went from grieving girlfriend to potential suspect. he asked for her phone. >> i said, okay is there a
reason why? you know, i just was kind of shocked. >> reporter: it turns out keith had asked kimberly to join him at the educator's conference that weekend. she said they had never finalized the plan but she had been mad at him for not returning her calls. >> she gets very upset in her text messages back, like, i can't believe you're not talking to me. you know, and they are like half-violent, like why are you -- why are you not calling me? >> really flaming stuff, huh? >> yeah. >> reporter: and something else. in keith's bedroom upstairs, crime scene analysts noticed this picture frame. it was toppled over and taken apart on a bookcase. whatever picture had been in it was gone. you can put a story together with that pretty easily, huh? >> the pieces of the puzzle were just starting to come together. >> reporter: investigator boland brought kimberly in for a formal taped interview. she was read her rights. >> i'm still in shock. i barely have my head around that he was killed and now i
feel like i'm going right from that into are you the one that killed him? i just found out that he was dead this morning and then i show up and i found out he was and now i feel like i'm a suspect. >> reporter: kimberly told investigator boland she had been three hours aw house at the time that keith had been shot. she did admit while she did get angry with him, she would neve >> never in a million years, no matter what he said or did did i ever consider or conceive of the hurting him or living without him. i remember feeling absolutely terrified and i thought i have two little boys at home. i need to get home. they don't even know he's gone. >> but in through some of your messages, you displayed the -- >> people say things in anger. >> anger. anger. you know what i mean?
>> have i been angry? you bet i have been angry. anybody would be in certain situations. that doesn't make them a killer. >> reporter: but had there been a trigger leading up to friday night? the investigators saw in kimberly's text messages that she was intent on getting back from reed a high school diploma, something she thought might be at his house. >> i used the f-word and i said i'm sure you're -- obviously you're there with another woman and i don't even care. i just need my [ bleep ] diploma. why won't you just pick your [ bleep ] phone up? you think i'm gonna show up and shoot him over my missing diploma i can't find? i would just go there, look through the bins, find it, take it and leave. >> reporter: but what about that picture frame? detectives thought it might have been toppled over during a fight. >> no, we've never broken pictures of each other so i really had no idea what they were talking about. >> reporter: investigator boland confronted kimberly with a working theory, thinking keith
was away, she stormed over to his house with a male friend to get her diploma back, only keith was still home, an unhappy surprise. >> there's an issue here where there's two males going at it. did you see something you didn't want to see? >> i wasn't there. >> seriously? not at all? >> not at all. they were thinking i was guilty of this. and i loved him so much. i could never have even thought of doing anything like that. >> reporter: the nearly three-hour-long interview was over. kimberly was still in the crosshairs and the thought was terrifying to her. >> am i gonna go to jail for something i didn't do? >> reporter: but investigator boland had his doubts she had anything to do with keith reed's death. >>. >> he didn't leave my suspect list, but at the same time, she -- she seemed genuine that she would never do something like this. >> reporter: meanwhile, there had been a very puzzling
development in the investigation. the sunday night the superintendent was reported missing the cops had asked the # phone company to ping keith reed's cell phone to ask the technological question, where are you? the phone answered back electronically, i'm in harrisburg, pennsylvania. this man is dead in the hedges by his house and his phone is in harrisburg, p.a.? >> yes. >> hours away? >> hours away. >> reporter: a school superintendent dead at his home. his phone more than 200 miles away. what was going on? coming up, things get way more complicated when a second woman makes a phone call to the sheriff. >> i don't know. >> okay, just relax. >> she was very, very upset. ♪ your true self is never lost. breathe deeply. you don't have to find yourself.
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returning to our story, a school superintendent in upstate new york has been found murdered. without much to go on, police have questions about his former fiancee, but a phone, and a phone call, will soon take detectives in a new and unexpected direction. here again is dennis murphy. >> reporter: of the many details concerning the homicide of well-liked school superintendent keith reed, perhaps none was more perplexing than the murdered man's cell phone. why was the phone company reporting its location as
harrisburg, pennsylvania, four hours southeast of the crime scene? >> i thought maybe it was a mistake. no one knew of anyone he would know in harrisburg. >> reporter: in the hours after keith's body was found, relatives frantically called that phone, desperate to get a voice on the other end. the sheriff was shocked on monday when one of them hit pay dirt. >> he said, i just called keith reed's phone and somebody answered. i said, what? >> that's a holy cow moment. >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: it turns out the person saying hello was a construction foreman on a bridge near harrisburg. the phone had been found on some scaffolding, which suggested to detectives someone in a car had tried to toss the phone into the river. >> it landed on a bridge deck that was -- had been set up to do repairs to the bridge. it was a very lucky break for us. >> what are the odds? >> one in a billion. >> reporter: while this recovered cell phone was on its way to the fbi lab, crime scene analysts spent the next day at keith reed's house, scouring the property for clues. district attorney david foley knew the clymer community, on edge about a school-related
shooting, was anxious for the case to be solved, but an arrest looked a long ways off. be nice to announce an arrest very quickly but you can't. you can't calm people down, can you? >> no. >> reporter: but then wednesday afternoon, something totally out of the blue happened that turned the investigation upside down. the sheriff was in a closed-door meeting when his secretary interrupted. >> i thought it was a family emergency. her face looked like she had seen a ghost. she said, sheriff, you have a phone call that i think you need to take. >> reporter: a panic-stricken woman was on the phone, she needed to talk to the sheriff immediately. the sheriff returned to his office so he could take the phone call. >> i don't know. i don't -- >> okay. just relax. >> i'm so scared. >> reporter: her name was mary taglianetti, she was calling from virginia. no one in keith's life, including her daughter, megan, had ever heard of her. that name mean anything to you, mary? >> no. >> anybody in the family? did it ring a bell? >> no. >> reporter: caitlin didn't know
the name either but realized this woman mary was someone he had taken to dinner in 2010 during an off period with kimberly. >> i remember him saying he was going out to dinner but, yeah, nothing ever came from it. >> reporter: but now mary was on the phone. >> she was very, very upset. [ crying ] >> stay with me. this is gonna be okay. relax. i kept her on the phone purposely, as long as i could, and while we were talking, i had my staff scrambling to get somebody in law enforcement to her home. >> reporter: almost 400 miles south, officers in virginia brought mary to an interview room. she was the second woman in three days investigators were speaking to about the murder of the superintendent. >> i'm glad they have these here. i just might need them. >> oh, okay. >> reporter: mary says she and keith first developed a relationship on match.com. she'd separated from her husband and had moved with her four children to upstate new york.
after 11 years of marriage, she says she was trying to figure out how to get back into the dating game. >> i was lonely and just needed someone to talk to, friend. >> reporter: mary says she was intrigued by the superintendent and responded when he sent her a message saying hello. >> and i said, you know, you're really good looking but we started talking and we had some things in common and then he asked if he could call me. >> reporter: they talked on and off for a couple of months, she says. keith, who always had a soft spot for someone in need, provided emotional support as she struggled to find her footing as a newly separated woman. >> i kind of felt lost, you know? i didn't know what to do or where to go next and he was great. he was -- he was really encouraging. >> reporter: it was sometime in the summer of 2010, she told the detectives, that she met her online match for their one and only date. >> he took me to dinner and we had a night together.
>> reporter: it was little more than a one-night stand. mary says she decided to try to make things work with her husband. keith reconciled with his girlfriend. >> we both just kind of said good luck to each other. >> so, it was like a handshake and good-bye, huh? >> pretty much. yeah. >> reporter: but a couple of years later, mary says, her marriage was once again coming undone. in the spring of 2012, she tried to friend keith on facebook. he didn't accept the request, but the superintendent did write her a message. >> he sent me a message back asking me how i was and i told him that i wasn't happy. and things weren't going too well. >> reporter: she says they started calling each other on the occasional evening. keith, struggling with his relationship, and mary, lonely in her's, confided in each other. was that something nice in your life at that time, mary? >> yes. >> what was it doing for you? >> a piece of happiness, like i felt a little more fulfilled.
>> reporter: but she says their phone conversations did, at times, get sexual. was it hi, how are you but did it also get a little steamy, mary? >> yes. >> reporter: still, it hardly seemed like a big-deal relationship. could a single date and some suggestive phone calls really add up to murder? in mary's mind, yes. but she hadn't called the sheriff to confess to the crime, nor had she called to point her finger at a potentially jealous girlfriend. no, mary had someone else entirely in mind and the clue to who killed the superintendent out. it was this long thing about don't -- don't you dare contact don't -- don't you dare contact do, you're gonna be sorry.
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breathe deeply. you don't have to find yourself. just let yourself in. the new atmosphere collection. fine home fragrance by glade. sc johnson, a family company. the internet had given renewed life to the cyber relationship between school superintendent, keith reed, and mary taglianetti. now, mary would explain to detectives in virginia why she feared their amorous digital trail had led to his death. >> i'm trying to give you everything that i can. >> reporter: mary had met her husband, rob taglianetti, in college. he was an historian with the marines. she was mostly a stay-at-home
mom to their four kids. she told detectives that their 11 years together had been difficult at times, but something had happened that august which pushed the marriage to the brink. she was at the doctor's when her husband discovered an e-mail. his wife thanking reed for the previous night's phone sex. >> he said do you mind telling me who keith reed is? >> you knew what he had come across, huh? >> yes. >> reporter: mary who had struggled through the pain of separation once, now decided to try to keep her family together. >> i was really thinking about the kids and i just thought, you know, they deserve to be in the home with their father and the mother. >> reporter: but her husband was adamant, she says, if he was going to stay there was a condition attached. she'd have to hand over her passwords. mary told detectives he later logged on to her e-mail account and fired off a blistering message to reed. >> but it was this long thing about don't -- don't you dare contact my wife ever again and if you do, you're gonna be sorry because i have the e-mails and
i'll post it all over your school. >> reporter: the superintendent responded simply and directly. "back off. stay away from me or i'll take action, and tell your wife the same." and that should have been the end of things? >> it should have been the end of things. >> but it wasn't? >> no. >> reporter: after reading keith's e-mail, mary says rob started getting dressed. she asked him where he was going. >> and he said where do you think i'm going? i said, you're going to go see keith? and he said, well, i guess you know me. >> does he take off in the car? >> he leaves, late, 11:00 at night. >> reporter: that all happened, she said, the night before investigators suspected keith reed had been killed. >> i had thought in my mind, like, there's no way he's going to go all the way up there just to try to beat this guy up. >> that's what you thought this was, confrontation, a fist fight? >> oh, yeah. he had gotten in fist fights before. >> reporter: for the past few years, mary says, she had been concerned about her husband's trip wire anger. >> he had episodes where i would be afraid of him or the children
would be afraid of him. >> reporter: it had caused their separation two years before and now she worried her husband had lost all perspective. i hear you saying it may have been a love triangle, only in rob's mind? >> yes. >> that is not what was going on? >> no. it was more like a connective friendship and it was flirting. >> reporter: she says she e-mailed keith several warnings and tried to reach her husband throughout the next day, but her calls went straight to voicemail. >> i was just thinking i was gonna get a phone call from the police saying your husband was acting like an idiot, but i didn't hear anything from anybody. >> reporter: mary says rob returned home saturday morning telling her keith had been out of town. >> instantly, i was like, oh, good, i was so happy. like, i was so relieved. >> reporter: relieved she told the detectives, until four days later, when she ran an internet search to see what her husband could have found out about the superintendent. >> there it was.
keith's picture saying 51-year-old keith reed shot to death. i couldn't believe it. like, i lost my breath and i was shocked. and i knew right away that it had to be rob. >> reporter: to investigators looking for the killer in upstate new york, de me than a there was keith reed's cell phone found off this bridge in pennsylvania. >> harrisburg is on the way to virginia. see, now that makes sense, too, that piece of the puzzle. >> reporter: and something else clicked. remember that man who'd appeared at clymer's central school asking to speak to the superintendent? investigators sent a freeze frame from the school's security cameras down to the interview room in virginia. >> does this look like him? >> yes. >> that's him? >> yes. >> mary identifies those stills
as being her husband. so we know that it's him in the school. >> reporter: now authorities had a suspect but where was he? mary said a few days after her husband returned, he told her he got a new job and quit his position as an historian at the marine base in quantico, she said and he had also packed up some things and taken off, leaving behind a cryptic note about going on a camping trip to clear his head. at the time, it hadn't made sense to her. >> i didn't understand why he didn't want to take us, you know, if he's gonna take a couple of weeks off for vacation, why wouldn't he take his family? >> reporter: but now, everything added up. the authorities issued bolo, a be on the lookout, for anthony rob taglianetti, a manhunt is under way. >> we are actively looking for this individual to pick him up for questioning and we consider him to be armed and dangerous. >> where are you? where are the children? >> we were at a hotel. they were worried that he was going to try to come back and look for us. >> reporter: as the authorities search for rob taglianetti,
keith reed's family up in new york state gathered to say their good-byes. the church in his hometown was too small for the hundreds of mourners, all the people whose lives the educator had touched. brother, kevin, was a pallbearer. did you speak that day? >> i couldn't. my son had to hold me up. >> you were a wreck at that point? >> oh, yeah. completely. >> reporter: keith's three daughters, though, did find the strength to speak. years before, they had almost lost their father in a motorcycle accident. he had persevered. now, they were determined to make him proud. >> i knew that he wouldn't want us to be sad and depressed. i knew he would want it to be a celebration of his life. >> reporter: it was that same afternoon that taglianetti's gold buick was spotted speeding down a road near a national park in virginia. >> make the plate, pull it over and take him into custody without incident. >> reporter: anthony rob taglianetti was charged with the second-degree murder of keith reed.
to the prosecutor, the theory of a jealous husband killing his perceived rival connected all the dots. but wait, the defense said, the real story of who was to blame had yet to be heard. rob taglianetti was merely the puppet, the defense would argue. it was his wife, mary, a cunning and manipulative woman who had pulled the strings. >> all she wanted was to be with keith reed, which means she's got to get rid of rob taglianetti. she's got to get him out of the picture. coming up, an angry husband, or as the defense argued, a scheming wife? >> this is the story about manipulation and exploitation. >> who was really behind keith reed's death?
a little more than a year after the killing of popular superintendent keith reed, rob taglianetti went on trial for second-degree murder. he pleaded not guilty. the prosecutor told the jury that this case was about an explicit e-mail that provoked a husband to kill. >> he sought out keith reed and shot him to death. >> reporter: the prosecutor laid out his case. taglianetti caught here on tape at the superintendent's school the day of the murder. a gold buick like taglianetti's
spotted in reed's driveway that afternoon and the soaked piece of paper on reed's lawn? it was an atm receipt linked to taglianetti's bank account. >> what a look at me detail, huh? >> wonderful. >> reporter: more incendiary e-mails, too, a flurry of them prosecutors said, sent to keith reed the night before the murder, capital letter stuff, exclamation points. >> i'm gonna get you. i'm gonna take care of you. you don't mess with me and my family. >> reporter: and all but say good night for forensic evidence found in taglianetti's car. in the case under the driver seat was a .357 revolver. it was wrapped in a printout of the wife's steamy e-mail. and on the gun itself? >> blood not only on the barrel but in the barrel, that was the gun pressed up against keith reed's back. >> reporter: and a big surprise found on taglianetti's laptop, the prosecution said, an exit strategy. hours before his arrest, rob taglianetti bought a one-way ticket to israel.
>> his ultimate idea was to get out of the country. >> reporter: but as convincing as the prosecution's case appeared, the defense attorney, ned barone, told the jury it was not at all what it seemed. >> this is a story about manipulation and exploitation. >> reporter: rob taglianetti, he said, was a u.s. marine with a sterling record, a devoted husband who loved his wife and wanted nothing more than to keep his family together. his wife, mary, on the other hand, was a master manipulator, he said, dead set on destroying the marriage any way she could. >> rob taglianetti she wanted out of her life. keith reed, she wanted to be with him. she did whatever she needed to do to accomplish both those ends. >> reporter: take rob's discovery of his wife's sexual e-mail. the defense suggested mary left that e-mail open on purpose. why? maybe because a confrontation between the two men was her goal. why else, he said, would she not have alerted the authorities to her husband's impending showdown with the superintendent?
>> if you're really worried of what your husband's going to do to another individual, wouldn't you call the officials? wouldn't you call the police? she waits, literally days, to call law enforcement. >> reporter: mary taglianetti, a prosecution witness, says she is appalled by the defense's theory and calls it preposterous. how is killing reed and getting her husband thrown in prison supposed to solve any problems? >> i didn't do anything on purpose. >> did you willingly provoke him, as the attorney suggests, even leaving open that e-mail to light the torch? >> no, no, no. i wish i never would have left that e-mail open. >> because that's the story that the jury is hearing about you, that you're driving the events. >> yeah, that's not true at all. >> reporter: but the defense attorney went even further, maybe those blistering e-mails from taglianetti to reed had really been written by mary? while she denies it, he implies it could be a way for her to frame her husband to show that
he left the house with murder on his mind. >> there's no corroborating evidence whatsoever of mary's testimony that rob authored those e-mails. >> reporter: to try to prove that point, the defense attorney cited a phrase in one of those messages that he said rob taglianetti would never have used. >> a marine doesn't refer to himself as a former marine. once a marine, always a marine. >> reporter: as for what did happen on keith reed's property the night he was killed, the defense did not concede that rob taglianetti was there, but if he had been, he said, maybe the superintendent was the aggressor. after all, he argued, it was his reputation that was at stake if the phone sex with mary was exposed. >> when someone's confronted with that situation, who knows what they could do? >> reporter: no, there were just too many unanswered questions to justify a guilty verdict, the defense told the jury, during closing arguments. >> the prosecutor has failed to establish this case and every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. >> all rise.
>> reporter: but it didn't take the jury long, just three hours to come to its decision. >> how does the jury find the defendant? >> the jury finds him guilty. >> reporter: guilty of the second-degree murder of school superintendent keith reed. rob taglianetti received 25 years to life in prison. he declined to interview with "dateline." in a pretrial motion, his attorney argued that rob taglianetti suffers from bipolar disorder and he hoped to make extreme emotional disturbance part of the defense. a notice of appeal has been filed. state of mind of the accused here is going to be an area to investigate, huh? >> that's crucial. absolutely. >> reporter: outside, kevin reed embraced his niece. a brother and father killed by the husband of a woman he had dinner with one time in his life. a woman they are convinced keith believed to be single.
so overwhelming. >> i thought i would feel relief or happy, but it just -- it wasn't. it was tough. >> reporter: among those thinking about keith reed's family is mary taglianetti. >> my heart goes out to them almost every day. and it's a tragedy and my and it's a tragedy and my heart breaks. >> reporter: the reed family is far from the only victim in this case. kimberly had nothing to do whatsoever to do with the crime, yet she says she had to endure being questioned as suspect while simultaneously struggling with the grief of losing a man she loved and admired. >> he was an incredible man who loved life. his girls always came first. he was a wonderful father figure to my children as well. >> reporter: keith reed's three daughters now face a future without their dad. he won't be there to walk the two younger girls down the aisle or be a loving granddad to their children or take their daily phone calls. when do you miss your dad the most, megan? >> when i drive home from work,
i always grab my phone to call him. it's just hard without that person there that i talked to so often. >> reporter: it has been close to impossible for his family to understand it, a devoted educator who did so much good for so many students, ripped from their lives for something so mundane, some online flirtation, a single dinner date, more flirtation two years later, and then three quick shots. >> it was a complete waste. lives of kids he could have helped. who knows what path they would have taken if they had contact with him. >> reporter: homicide brewed in cyberspace may sound perfectly modern, but the combustibles are as timeless as the winter fields here. one woman, two men, and a jealousy that was all-consuming. >> that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us.
trump's health care surrender. >> i'm disappointed because we could have had it. so i'm disappointed. >> i will not sugar coat this. this is a disappointing day for us. >> the party's full promise for four straight campaigns broken. how did it happen and why are they giving up so easily? white house budget director mick mulvaney joins me this morning. plus can a deeply divided republican party ever figure out how to govern? i'll talk to two republican no votes from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum together. senator mike leigh of utah and charlie dan of pennsylvania. >> and if health care wasn't bad enough for the president trump the fbi director confirms his agency has been investigating th